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Monday, May 10, 2010, 12:55 pm PT (03:55 pm ET)

Apple could embrace new high-speed Wi-Fi specification - report

The head of a new Wi-Fi standard known as WiGig, which offers data speeds of 7 gigabits per second and aims to replace high definition video cables, has implied that Apple could adopt the technology in the future.

WiGig and the Wi-Fi Alliance will attempt to persuade networking hardware manufacturers like Linksys and D-Link to include the new format in their upcoming products. WiGig is said to be up to 10 times faster than the current 802.11N speeds, allowing the wireless transfer of high-definition video and potentially replacing wired connections such as HDMI.

Ali Sadri, chairman and president of the Wireless Gigabit Alliance Alliance, suggested to the Los Angeles Times that Apple could adopt the new standard, but did not clarify whether he was sharing known details, or merely hoping that the Mac maker would support the new high-speed technology.

"In addition to Dell, Cisco Systems recently joined the organization's board of directors. While Sardi pointed to Apple as an innovator in driving new technology uptake, he wouldn't comment on the company's involvement," the report said. "Apple didn't respond to a request for comment."

Sardi did say, however, that "practically all of the Wi-Fi chip manufacturers" are on board. But WiGig is viewed as a complement, rather than a permanent replacement, for existing Wi-Fi, as it has a much smaller footprint than the current technology.

The Wi-Fi Alliance and WiGig Alliance announced on Monday that they will cooperate for the multi-gigabit wireless networking standard, using shared technology specifications for a next-generation Wi-Fi alliance Wi-Fi Alliance certification program supporting Wi-Fi operation in the 60GHz frequency.

"60 GHz device connectivity will be an exciting enhancement to the capabilities of today's Wi-Fi technologies. It will expand the utility of Wi-Fi, used by hundreds of millions of people every day," said Wi-Fi Alliance chief executive officer Edgar Figueroa. "From its inception, the WiGig specification was designed to work on a wide variety of devices, making it a compelling input as we begin to define our certification program for 60 GHz wireless."

Despite Monday's announcement, the first WiGig products are expected to take at least two years to become available for sale. But the report asked readers to imagine future technology that would allow wireless streaming of Hulu to the living room, or an Xbox that could wirelessly connect to a TV over a Wi-Fi network once it's plugged in.

If Apple is in fact planning on embracing WiGig in its future products, it's yet another future technology the Mac maker is looking at. Last year, it was revealed that Apple has partnered with Intel to drive the adoption of Light Peak, a new specification for high-speed optical cables. Light Peak is planned to replace a variety of existing ports, including USB, FireWire and DisplayPort.

The optical cabling in Light Peak would allow an initial throughput of 10Gbps, which could transfer a full-length Blu-ray movie in less than 30 seconds. Within a decade, Intel expects to achieve speeds of 100Gbps.

Another potential future technology from Apple was revealed in a patent application earlier this year, with a new cable that would transmit both USB 3.0 and DisplayPort with one connector.